Former Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has said he is surprised that Flames striker Frank Gabadinho Mhango has struggled for game-time this season.
The Flames striker was a regular during Zinnbauer era and won the joint Premier Soccer League (now DStv Premiership) top goal-scorer awards alongside Namibian Peter Shalulile (then playing for Highlands Park), having scored 16 goals each during 2019- 20 season.
However, Zinnbauer told iDiski Times that there was stiff competition at the club.
“It does surprise, yes. But I also have to say it is not always the fault of the coaches, we can’t say that Mhango does not play because the coach does not like him,’’ he is quoted as saying on iDiski Times.
“Pirates have many options in attack. Mhango also made a step backwards during my time and that is why one cannot say the coaches are doing wrong.”
He said, as a player, Mhango needs to rediscover his form.
“You can’t always blame the coach or the system. The player himself needs to find his rhythm. If a player finds his scoring form, he scores,” the German coach told the online publication.
Despite starring for the Flames during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon, Mhango has had limited playing time at Pirates.
Mhango scored three goals for the Flames in four matches.
He has only featured five times for the Soweto giants.
Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi has on several occasions explained the reasons behind Mhango’s exclusion.
At one point, he said being a regular at national team does not guarantee a place at Pirates.
Ncikazi co-coach Fadlu Davids also said Mhango was being sidelined due to disciplinary issues.
Mhango was not even on the bench as Pirates lost 1-0 to TS Galaxy in the DStv Premiership on Monday as their winless run continued.
Sports analyst Sherry Msuku said Mhango should not give up.
“He should keep on working hard during training. One day, he will play,’’ Msuku said.
Several former Pirates players have also spoken on Mhango’s continued exclusion.
Having moved to PSL in 2014 when he joined Bloemfontein Celtic, Mhango also played for Bidvest Wits and Golden Arrows before moving to Pirates.